Dec 18 2014 by Sjon Welters  |  21 comments

What is it and why eat it?Sticky stringy Rhapsody natto

In line with many of our other Rhapsody products, natto is a traditional Japanese fermented food. It has a stringy sticky texture and very distinct flavor that can be likened to a strong aged cheese. Many relish it as a delicacy while others have learned to love it (or at least like it enough to eat regularly) for it’s unusual health benefits. The beans used for natto beans are usually small soybeans so that the bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) can permeate and ferment the bean more thoroughly. Because soybeans are high in phytic acid, it’s important to eat it fermented as the fermentation breaks down the phytic acid and adds many desirable elements to the product. Some highlights of the health benefits of natto are as follows.

1) High in Vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2 is necessary for proper bone development and maintaining a healthy bone mineral density. It assists in calcium absorption to aid in creating and maintaining healthy bones. While assisting the absorption of calcium for the bones, it also helps keep the vascular system clear of calcification. A diet rich in Vitamin K helps to make sure that the calcium ends up where it needs to be (bones) and doesn’t go where it shouldn’t be (arteries and heart). Although K2 is present in leafy greens and other vegetables, the richest food source of Vitamin K2 is natto. This argument was made stronger when research showed that Japanese who eat natto on a daily basis are at much lower risk for bone fractures than Western countries where Vitamin K2 deficiency is more common.  One serving of natto (100g) contains 29% DV of Vitamin K (1 and 2).

2) Probiotic

Natto is fermented and is made using the Bacillus subtilis natto bacteria. This bacteria is helpful in aiding digestive disorders, especially those instigated by the use of antibiotics. It is said that in ancient Japan the Samurai’s used it daily and would even feed it to their horses to increase their speed, health and vitality. The B. subtilus  bacteria can live out it’s whole life cycle in the human gut, which not all probiotics are capable of. This makes natto a highly effective aid in creating a healthy environment in your digestive system.

3) Contains Nattokinase.

Nattokinase is an enzyme that helps break down blood clots. As you get older your body’s ability to create plasmin (the natural enzyme that breaks down blood clots) diminishes, while the ability and rate of creating clots increases. Nattokinase can take the place of plasmin in breaking down these blot clots. It has been suggested that nattokinase can help with the prevention of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, although more study needs to be done to make this more understood.

4) Vegetable Protein.

Natto has 18 grams of protein available per 100g serving. It contains a broad range of amino acids and is very nearly a complete protein. When paired with rice, it supplies all the amino acids to make a complete protein.

5) Other Nutrition Data.

One serving of natto (about 100g/3.5oz) contains:

  • 22% RDV Dietary Fiber
  • 22% RDV Calcium
  • 22% RDV Vitamin C
  • 48% RDV Iron
  • 6% Vitamin B6
  • 76% Manganese
  • 29% Magnesium
  • 21% Potassium
  • 20% Zinc

natto, fermented soybeans

Traditionally natto is made from a variety of small soybeans. It can be made with large soybeans, but has a different taste and texture. Organic natto soybeans are not available in the United States at this time, so we have to contend with Non-GMO soybeans for now. The folks that we get our natto soybeans from practice progressive farming techniques such as crop rotations to strengthen the soil and reduce pesticide use. However, they are not organic which we would prefer. We are in conversation with local farmers in the hopes that if we create the need for natto beans (by making natto), they would grow them. We have a few promising prospects and have high hopes for making natto with certified organic soybeans in the future.

Natto is best when eaten fresh and warm, but can be frozen for keeping longer. Keep refrigerated and consume before the date on the container, or freeze upon receipt and consume within the sell-by-date of thawing.

Try our natto and enjoy!




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21 comments on ... Natto

  1. alice eve richter,D.D.S. says:

    how much natto do you eat per breakfast serving?

    • Traditionally natto is sold in a unit of 40 grams, about 1.4 oz. This having been time-tested, I would use that as one serving. Of course, your needs might be higher or lower. We’ve heard of one case of a person with severe calcification of the arteries who ate several containers per day and was able to clean his arteries in a period of a few months (the owner of a natto producer in The Netherlands – Personally we eat one container between the two of us. Others might feel a strong desire to eat a lot when they start eating natto and then find the craving diminish as their body gets saturated with the needed nutrients provided by natto.

  2. craire says:


    If natto is frozen, do all the probiotics and microbes die? Is the nutritional value altered at all from freezing the natto?? Very curious and interested in health benefits of fermented foods because they are cheap healthy and delicious!!! Thanks 🙂

    • Madelief Becherer says:

      The probiotic bacteria and microbes become dormant through freezing, they become active again when they warm above freezing. The nutritional value isn’t significantly altered through freezing which is why freezing foods is an efficient and easy way to preserve foods. Hope that helps!

  3. Michael says:

    Sara this is Michael thank you for the re-order I appreciate it so much! I’m enjoying my Natto now thanks to you!

  4. John Hedger says:

    How low is the sodium content of your natto?

  5. Emily Bruce says:

    I would love to try your natto. I have been only able to find products filled with many additives here in Tucson (at Asian grocery stores). I am reluctant to order it and have it shipped to AZ- due to distance and heat this time of year. Does it come frozen on ice? Would I have to use overnight shipping? thanks

    • Thank you for your interest in our natto! We do ship it in an insulated box with ice, however AZ might be too far for Ground shipping. Overnight might not be the only option, 2Day or Express Saver might work as well. Feel free to give us a call so we can look into the shipping options. (802)563-2172. Let me know how we can help!

  6. Lilac says:

    Thank you, Madelief, your incubator sounds excellent. I’ve been eating your natto that I get at the coop in Montpelier. The taste is superb, even better than the natto I’ve bought at Asian grocery stores. Sometimes I use yours as a culture to make my own. I use a yogurt maker, but the natto bacteria prefers more oxygen, so that is not the best. A variety of beans can be used, not only soy. I even ferment whole grains with it. But my natto never comes out as tasty and stringy as yours. A few years ago, my mom had a stroke. So I’m eager for her to eat natto to keep her blood from clotting.

    • We haven’t tried other beans and grains. We’ll try it! I’ve heard some folks use a beach cooler with a light bulb in it. When we started we used an old refrigerator, with a heating lamp in it. You can get a lot of ideas from doing an online search for “homemade incubators”. As long as you are around to check the temperature, many designs can work. Good luck with your natto making and may it bring continued health to your mother (and you!). Best, Madelief

  7. Lilac says:

    What equipment do you use to keep the natto warm while it is fermenting? Thank you, Lilac

  8. Sue says:

    Would you please tell me how long the Natto will stay fresh in the fridge for, and if I decide to freeze the Natto how much nutritional value will it loose by being frozen?

    Many Blessings,

    • Hi Sue,
      The natto has a 6 week shelf life in the refrigerator. Enjoy by the sell by date on the container. If you decide to freeze it, the texture might change ever so slightly (most people don’t notice a difference) and it won’t alter the nutritional value. If you freeze it, consume it within 3 days of thawing. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  9. Jerri Kohl says:

    I don’t really care about organic certification, just that synthetics aren’t used, especially pesticides and secondly fertilizers. I also care about local, and love that when I buy your other soy products, I’m buying from a local producer (I’m from neighboring Peacham) a product made with local soybeans.

    Organic certification has lots of issues: Here in VT, a corrupt NOFA-VT can be added to the list. Also, I know of certified organic farms that lie and hide their chemicals when the inspector comes by. So, even with organic certification, farmer trust is important (and, as mentioned in the wikipedia article, some synthetics and other not-truly-organic practices are allowed by the standards).

  10. Adam says:

    Just discovered your product. Please try for organic soybeans in the future please.

    • We would much prefer to be using organic natto soybeans as well. The natto soybean is a smaller variety of bean and unfortunately is not available organically grown in the US. We are continuously working to foster relationships with farmers who may be willing to start an organic natto soybean crop if we can provide the demand for it. In the meantime we are sourcing our beans from a family farm that uses integrative growing practices and non-GMO seeds. Thanks for your feedback!

  11. Jean says:

    How do you serve Natto?
    Is it mixed in with other items
    Eaten as a side dish?
    Thank you

    • Hi Jean! The nicest way to eat natto is as a side dish with rice or noodles. I like to add a little tamari, yellow or dijon mustard and scallions. Another favorite is to mix in some sauerkraut, I do about 2:1 natto to sauerkraut. The sauerkraut give it a nice crunch in contrast to the bean texture. There are many interesting recipes our there, but I like to keep it as simple as possible. Make sure you whip up the natto well with whatever ingredients you like so that it gets nice and stringy. Enjoy!

    • Traditionally it is eaten as a breakfast food in Japan, mixed with soysauce , mustard, scallion, and even a raw small quail egg. On top of hot rice or noodles, or straight out of the package.

      See our organic natto page for more ideas and recipes.

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